(St.) Bartholomew the Great
- On the north side of Bartholomew Close, West Smithfield (P.O. Directory). In Farringdon Ward Without." Sanctus Bartholomoeus Magnus de Smethefelde," 31 Ed. I. (Lib. Cust. I. 228). Sometimes called " St. Bartholomew without Aldersgate," 1407 (Ct. H.W. II. 374).Originally the church of St. Bartholomew's Priory, West Smithfield, a portion of it was, at the Dissolution, reconstructed for a parish church to remain and be called the parish church of St. Bartholomew the Great in Westsmythfelde, and John Dean the curate was appointed the first Rector, 36 H. VIII. 1544 (L. and P. H. VIII. XIX. (i), p. 377).In 1547 the church and hospital, etc., were granted to the Mayor and citizens (ib. XXI (2), p. 414).The church is of Norman work, and has in parts been well preserved and restored. It consists of the choir and transepts of the monastic church, the nave having been destroyed at the Dissolution in 1539. The only portion remaining of the west facade is the gateway out of West Smithfield, giving entrance to the church. This is early 13th-century work.The choir is Norman, commenced 1123, the clerestory Early English. The Lady Chapel 15th-century work. The church was restored in 1863-6 and again in 1885-88, when the Lady Chapel, which had been used as a fringe factory, was restored and reopened for use. One or two bays of the cloisters remain on the south side of the church. The nave extended into Smithfield. The tomb of the founder Rahere is a good specimen of Perpendicular work, but of much later date than his decease.The exterior of the church has undergone considerable alteration, as in old days it had a central tower and two turrets (Moore, 21).The central tower was removed and the present tower built in 1628, the porch at the west end new built 1620.There is an interesting account of the existing church and excavations in L. and M. Arch. Soc. Trans. N.S. II. Pt. 2, pp. 212 et seq.A Rectory. Patrons : in private hands.See St. Bartholomew's Priory.The parish comprises the site of the ancient priory and its precinct. It is interesting to note that having been at one time a monastic enclosure, there is no great thoroughfare running through the parish and several of the smaller passages were in former times closed by gates.The origin of the foundation is set out in the monastic chartulary and is ascribed to a vision granted to Rahere the founder, in which St. Bartholomew appeared to rescue him from a winged monster, who in his dream had seized him and was about to destroy him, after which St. Bartholomew directed him to found a church in his honour in Smithfield (Cott. MS. Vesp. B. ix.).
A Dictionary of London. Henry A Harben. 1918.
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